London Pride say police can only march out of uniform

Uniformed police will not be welcomed to march in London’s Pride Parade later this month, with organisers stipulating that police may only take part if they are dressed in civilian clothes.

The decision comes after LGBTIQA+ rights campaigns called on the police to be banned from the march over the “homophobic” handling of the investigation into serial killer Stephen Port.

In 2016 Port was found guilty of the murders of Gabriel Kovari, 22 a student; Daniel Whitworth, 21, Jack Taylor, 25, a fork lift driver and aspiring fashion designer Anthony Walgate, who was 23. The case was dramatised in the television series Four Lives.

Port met his victims, who were all in their twenties, on a gay social networking sites including Grindr and Fitlads before poisoning them with the drug GHB, and then dumping their bodies in and around a nearby graveyard. Their bodies were discovered between June 2014 and September 2015.

Last month the Independent Office for Police Conduct announced it would be re-examining the police’s handling of the case. In 2021 new inquests were held into the deaths of the four victims, finding that police negligence likely played a role in three of the deaths.

To date none of the 17 officers who worked on the cases have faced any disciplinary actions. Police have faced criticism because they interviewed Stephen Port after the first victim was found and failed to recognise him as a person of interest. They also slow to recognise that the cases were linked, despite their similarities in both location and the circumstances of the deaths.

Veteran LGBTIQA+ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell recently commented on the case saying it showed that ““institutional homophobia is alive and kicking in the Metropolitan police”.

“While there are many good officers, and they are welcome to march in civilian clothes, Pride needs to challenge the police as an institution, otherwise they will never reform.” Tatchell said.

London Pride released a statement outlining their stance.

“We work hard to strike a balance between the very real and legitimate concerns from members of our community, and being as welcoming as we can. We agree that the police uniform undermines that balance, and as such we are aligned that it should not feature in our parade.” parade organisers said.

Graeme Watson, image 2019 London Pride Parade. 

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